Weather forecasters predict a fast ride South at this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
Weather forecasters agree that the ride south is going to be a downwind dash. Michael Logan of the Bureau of Meteorology has predicted a start in a 15 knot north easterly breeze increasing slightly during the afternoon to 20 – 25 knots as the sea breeze fills in providing a fast downwind run down the NSW coast under kites.
The N/NE breezes are forecast to hold throughout Saturday and into Sunday but a soft change may affect the leaders in the Bass Strait. Late on Sunday a front is forecast to move through the Bass Strait with stronger westerly winds.
Weather forecast guru Roger ‘Clouds’ Badham says the speed of the race depends on the first six hours and then the conditions on Saturday night. If the winds swing quickly to the north east on Boxing Day and strengthen then Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI could reach Tasman Light as early as 7pm on Saturday night, just 30 hours into the race. If this happens then the 30 metre giant could finish before the wind clocks off for the night. Should that happen then the current race record she set in 2005 of 1d 18h 40m 10s, could be beaten.
The next batch of boats including Skandia, Shockwave and Ichi Ban will suffer overnight in the night time shutdown, but the 60ft mini-maxis and the TP52’s could all benefit from a morning arrival on Storm Bay.
“This is my fifth Hobart and this looks like one of the best forecasts I’ve seen,” said Andy Beadsworth, tactician on the week old Reichel/Pugh 63 Loki, one of the handicap favourites.
The forecast also suits Ray Roberts Quantum Racing.
“It’s a particularly good forecast for us,” Roberts said today, “Quantum Racing has a canting keel and as long as we have over 15 knots of breeze we can get her up and planing very quickly.”
As always the timing of the changes will be crucial. Then there is always the dreaded sunfish or two lying in wait!.
The Rolex Sydney Hobart 2008 starts at 1300hrs on Boxing Day